“It was very difficult to imagine how the memory T cells could win this race,” said Sigal, the lead author of the study.
The Fox Chase experiments show that memory CD8 T cells rapidly multiply and kill target cells inside the lymph node.
“In fact we found that memory CD8 T cells already killed target cells in the lymph node and decreased viral spread to the liver and spleen when the virus just barely started to multiply.”
Thus, memory CD8 T cells do not prevent infection; but prevent disease partly because they curb the spread of the virus from the lymph node to vital organs at very early stages of the infection.
“It’s like having a security check point,” said Sigal. “Also, many cancers, like viruses, must pass through lymph nodes to metastasize, so this research may help develop vaccines that prevent tumor metastases.”
Source:Fox Chase Cancer Center